Protest over derailment held at Norfolk Southern’s Atlanta headquarters

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

A few dozen protesters rallied in front of Norfolk Southern’s Midtown Atlanta headquarters on Saturday afternoon, voicing support for rail workers and people affected by the company’s toxic derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

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At the busy intersection of Ponce de Leon Avenue and West Peachtree Street where Norfolk Southern opened a gleaming office tower in 2021, the Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America and students from the Young Democratic Socialists of America at Georgia Tech chanted and held signs with messages such as “Honk for rail workers,” “Norfolk Southern has loco motives” and “Atlanta stands with East Palestine.”

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

The protesters say they want Norfolk Southern to improve work conditions for rail workers, stop lobbying against safety rules and regulations and “fully compensate” residents harmed by the Ohio derailment, among other demands.

Norfolk Southern says it is “working around the clock to remediate the remaining issues in East Palestine.” The company says it has committed more than $21 million to East Palestine and the surrounding region, including financial assistance to families.

Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw in testimony before a U.S. Senate committee on Thursday said he is committed to improving the railroad’s safety, but fell short of endorsing a rail safety bill that has been introduced in Congress. When pressed on adding more paid sick leave for workers, he committed to continue discussions on “important quality of life issues” with unions.

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“We’re here to demand accountability from Norfolk Southern and its CEO,” said Kelsea Bond, co-chair of the Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America, in front of the company’s headquarters on Saturday. Bond advocated for Norfolk Southern to pay expenses for residents affected by the Ohio derailment.

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

“We want them to pay every cent of their medical bills,” Bond said. “We want them to pay every cent to relocate to a new location if they need it.”

The company announced earlier this month that it plans safety upgrades and is working with the Georgia Tech Research Institute to develop more advanced safety inspection technology.

Alex Cliver, a student at Georgia Tech who spoke during the rally, said he thinks Norfolk Southern needs “to be more transparent about what they’re doing and fully repay everything.”

“I think all around America, people are not happy with Norfolk Southern,” Cliver said.

AJC complete coverage on Norfolk Southern

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has been tracking the recent issues faced by the Atlanta-based Norfolk Southern. Among our staff’s in-depth coverage:

New Norfolk Southern HQ designed with future in mind

EPA: Norfolk Southern could be liable for Ohio train derailment cleanup

Another Norfolk Southern train derails; EPA chief vows accountability

Buttigieg: Ohio residents ‘not satisfied’ by Norfolk Southern response

Ohio train crew got critical alert only moments before derailment

Ohio town reels from Norfolk Southern derailment disaster

NTSB launches special probe into Norfolk Southern safety practices

‘I’m terribly sorry,’ Norfolk Southern CEO tells senators

Railroads have a pivotal history with Atlanta. Here’s a special advertising section from last year in partnership with the Atlanta History Center and Norfolk Southern:

Atlanta & the Railroads